Dallas Docs Recycle Medical Equipment to Save Lives

Two North Texas doctors are recycling medical equipment to save lives and the environment.

Technology changes at such a rapid pace, that perfectly usable medical equipment is often thrown away to make room for what's cutting-edge.

"This stuff basically gets replaced on a constant basis," said Dr. Christopher Haas, an anesthesiologist.

Billions of dollars worth of usable medical equipment in the United States is thrown away, destroyed or ends up in landfills.

"The manufacturers just destroy it," said Dr. David Vanderpool, a general surgeon. "It goes to the landfills, and it's wasted. There are places all over the world that need this equipment to save human lives."

The two doctors and a registered nurse, Kristine Debuty, teamed up to share the wealth.

They gathered donations of equipment that would have normally been thrown away, took a team and an interpreter to the Ukraine, and taught classes on how to use, repair and maintain the equipment.

Hospitals in the Ukraine struggle to buy even the most basic equipment.  At some hospitals, water is available only two hours a day in the morning and two hours in the evening.

"They remind me of the old Parkland hospital, where I started my medical training back in the early 1950s -- maybe even more primitive than that," Vanderpool said.

In the United States, every pregnant woman is hooked up to a fetal monitor when they are about to deliver. The team visited a Ukrainian hospital called Petrovsky #14, where doctors had only heard of a fetal monitor but had never seen one.

The team donated six fetal monitors, miscellaneous medical supplies, examination lights and medical mattresses. And they plan to ship more supplies in the coming months.

What started out as a way to change lives has also turned into a life-changing event for the doctors.

"It adds purpose to my life," Haas said. "It's incredibly, incredibly satisfying."

For more information, e-mail Haas at doctorhaas@hotmail.com.

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